Alumni Services

Lisbeth Thoms

Lisbeth Thoms studied everything from fine art to politics, but it was archeology which inspired her subsequent career.

Name Lisbeth Thoms
Degree Course Social Sciences
Year of Graduation 1969
Lisbeth Thoms

Your time at the University

I chose Edinburgh because of the breadth of subjects on offer i.e. those I could study as part of my degree course and others I could simply dip in and out of. Multi or inter disciplinary approaches to studying the past were not particularly fashionable when I was a student but I relished attending lectures in geography, economic history, archaeology, history of architecture, fine art, social anthropology, politics and Scottish studies to name but a few! I am forever grateful that I was afforded such opportunity because it hugely benefited my subsequent career.

There was a great mix of the old and the new as far as buildings were concerned in the late 1960s. The library moved from the Old Quad to George Square, and tutorials in older departmental buildings in High School Yards, George Square and Buccleuch Place were complemented by lectures in the new David Hume Tower and William Robertson Building. Two of my favourite socialising haunts were the Women’s Union in Chambers street and the Refectory in Drummond Street. I also appreciated the City of Edinburgh for the national institutions it houses and which could be experienced as a student for example museums, art galleries, library, archives, law courts.

Tell us about your Experiences since leaving the University

On leaving Edinburgh I did a post-graduate Diploma in Archaeology at the University of Durham then joined the staff of Dundee City Council’s Museums as an archaeologist. I spent nearly 25 years in local government then left to pursue a career as a freelance archaeologist and heritage adviser. I developed a particular interest in heritage management and the issues concerning the preservation of sites and monuments as well as their presentation and interpretation for public enjoyment and appreciation.

Edinburgh was at the heart of my career from beginning to end, and still plays a part in my retirement activities!


Throughout my career I campaigned for the better protection and conservation of Scotland’s cultural collections and its historic built environment. I was a founder member of the Tayside and Fife Archaeological Committee when it was established in 1976, was President of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 2002-05 and served as a member of the former Ancient Monuments Board for Scotland and of the Advisory Panel on Treasure Trove. In the 2008 New Year Honours List I was awarded the MBE for Services to Conservation in Scotland, with the investiture at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. I have now retired, but Edinburgh was at the heart of my career from beginning to end, and still plays a part in my retirement activities!

Alumni wisdom

To current students I would simply say embrace fully all the opportunities for learning and developing that both the university and the city offer including those you might least have anticipated. These experiences will prove their worth in later life.